Gostelow Report Live – ILTM Asia, day two

Night-time view…

Night-time view…

Well, what a party last night – thank you, ILTM, and thank you, Jing’An Shangri-La (GM/RVP cycling-mad Kieran Twomey, from Ireland) for a memorable evening, purely A Touch Of Gold, with Ju & Lu singing-DJs, contortionists and cocktails by Employees Only’s Steve Schneider. At the 508-room hotel, go for anything that has access to the superb 55th-floor Horizon Club, designed by would-be lawyer André Fu.

• British Airways’ EVP China, Richard Tams, was similarly set for a law career before temporarily joining the airline – 25 years ago. Now he handles Greater China, with direct routes to London Heathrow from Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Shanghai, all with two Chinese cabin crew aboard. Enroute to London, Chinese editions of High Life tempt high-end purchases, particularly appealing since it seems to be Chinese women who plan and control leisure trips – social media features such vignettes as English schools, plus Downton Abbey venues. BA is here with Visit Britain, and today Tams announces a partnership with the New West End Company, ‘Bond Street By Appointment’ – and, by the way, Chinese can pay for a 24-hour-turnround UK visa, which also allows travel on to Ireland.

• Aspen CO has scheduled nonstop flights from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the year-round privately-owned Little Nell resort has a wealth of experiences for adventure-seeking young Asians. Pete Hayda, here for the first time in Shanghai, says try its snow-cat academy. Learn how to drive the mighty Prinoth 360 machines that clear the snow runs daily – you even get a certificate to show your friends back home. Little Nell offers heliskiing, biking and yoga, and the history of silver mining (its main restaurant is Element47) – and amazing photo opportunities sighting black bears in the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, half a mile away. Little Nell is Relais&Châteaux, and its Residences are part of Relais’ new Villas programme. Oh yes, the hotel has 19,500 wines plus 2,000 Burgundies ageing on property, and its next two-yearly own-label Champagne, by Robert Moncuis of Cuis, arrives next week in time for the annual Aspen Food & Wine Classic.

• Relais’ lineup here also includes The Goring London, recently redone – its butlers, called footmen, wear scarlet tail coats. Others here include Awasi Patagonia, overlooking Sarmiento Lake, and Sher Bagh safari camp in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. Consider, too, Fiji’s Dolphin Island, owned by swashbuckling investor Alex van Heeren, who first made his name with his Huka Lodge, near Taupo, New Zealand.

• Hot news from the Big Apple: Seoul-based Lotte has bought, and will operate, The New York Palace.

• Belmond’s New York-based Ralph Aruzza says a Taste of Belmond gives substantial dining and wining credits through this September. Next year sees the launch of the Belmond Hibernian train, to explore the Irish countryside, plus the opening of the newly-branded Belmond Cadogan Hotel London (GM is Klaus Kabelitz, who had many admiring followers when he ran The Berkeley London). In Myanmar – such a hot ticket for top travel advisors these days – Belmond has the historic Belmond Governor’s Residence, Yangon, (GM Thomas Henseler), plus two cruisers.

• Also in Myanmar, the 27-suite Strand Cruise, under GM Jérôme Seban, offers three- and four-night itineraries on the Ayeyarwady River between Bagan and Mandalay. In Yangon, stay at the 1901-vintage Strand Hotel (GM Philippe Delaloye): both are managed by Goodwin Gaw’s GCP Hospitality • Tilman Held graduated in business administration and worked for Ralph Lauren in New York before launching awayfromitall, operating bespoke journeys and active adventure-filled travel experiences. He now also suggests awaywiththechamps, travelling with a champion, say an Olympic medallist, a World Cup winner or the like (bike-safari through Colorado and Utah with Jan Ullrich, the only German winner of Tour de France).

• Richard Pope was an Aston Martin DB9 developer in London until he came to Phuket in 1990 and fell in love with the place. His long-awaited Kata Rocks Phuket, GM Scott Toon, opened November 2014: all 34 villas, white on white style, have private infinity pools (as selmaE from Ibiza says, ‘can it get better than this? Don’t think so’).

•Ever-energetic Simon Manning, Mr Langham, says latest Langham Ever-energetic Simon Manning, Mr Langham, says latest Langham pipeline is the 338-room Langham Hefei, opening 2016 (designer Bilkey Llinas). Langham Place in Hong Kong’s Mongkok area reflags August 3rd, 2015, to be the first of Langham’s new wellness-accented Cordis (heart) brand. Ask him also about Langham’s exclusive contract with Wedgwood for its afternoon tea services, based on a tradition that goes back 150 years to the launch, June 10th, 1865, of The Langham, London – it was opened by
The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII.

• Talking of British royalty, Maradiva, Mauritius, is lovingly run by its owner Sanjiv Ramdanee – who is later going on from here to England, where, as a lifetime member of the Royal Enclosure, he, in vintage black silk top hat and bespoke tail suit, will be hobnobbing with the world’s royalty at Royal Ascot, June 16-20 (Maradiva is part of The Leading Hotels of the World, whose representative here, Fiza Han, heads 22 hotels, up from 13 in 2014). All Maradiva’s 65 detached villas have infinity plunge pools, and for more exercise, there is tennis, strolling the 55 acres of beautiful gardens, or hiking the beach (meet Dr Kalyan Chakravarthy for a personalised ayurvedic assessment).

• Sally Everton is showing the 50-room Dartington Hall (GM Tej Walia) in the beautiful Devon countryside, 1.5 miles from Totnes rail station and just over two hours from London Paddington. Once at this charity-owned beauty, you have 800 acres of listed gardens, and retail therapy at The Shops at Dartington, including unique jewellery, world famous Dartington Crystal and designer clothes and bags. Also, follow the 1,000-year history trail, starting in the Café, to see how many famous royals have been here • More retail: MGM Grand Sanya has a free shuttle to the amazing Haitang Bay duty-free shopping – the 670-room hotel’s kids summer camp, MGM Grand Magic Chateau, runs July and August.

• This April Bulgari Bali unveiled the brand’s first wedding chapel – it is made from local Paras Kerobokan stone paired with handcrafted floor-to-ceiling glass panels, and next to it is a 3,000 sq ft outdoor Pavillion Terrace, with amazing over-ocean views.

• Mumbai-based Seema Makhija, CEO of Travel Voyages (I) P Limited, points out that more and more luxury consumers today want wedding planners with certificates in that field. Her clients increasingly like travelling to Switzerland, especially St Moritz and Verbier, or the Rockies (Canada is much easier for Indian passports than the USA.

• Hotel Suvretta House, St Moritz, is now run by Peter Egli, here at ILTM Asia. What is new? He cites mountain bike camps for teenagers and adults, an exhibition of alpine landscapes by Trentino artist Giovanni Segantini 1868-1899 and, in the spa, Ilä signature treatments. At all times, too, the views are, well, paradise.

• Head for Europe’s Alps, across five countries. Best of the Alps’ Grindelwald-based CEO Sammy Salm says he now has over 200 unique stories covering 12 destinations, and he can design a trip just for you.

• Everyone is longing for Rosewood Baha Mar, on the west end of Bahamas’ New Providence island, to open and the 100-room hotel will be fantastic! Designers Munge Leung and Diana Wong, have had a bit of help from Lenny Kravitz. Enjoy private picnic excursions to Kamalame Cay private island (hotel MD Luis Fernandes).

• The 283-room Rosewood Beijing (MD Marc Brugger) had as its first guest, October 3rd, 2014, a somewhat-surprised Prince Andrew – he must have loved the club lounge’s full-size billiards table. This is Beijing hang-out for the fashion world and, thanks to the sibling Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park CA, the IT world, plus Rupert Murdoch

• This February, Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver opened its subterranean Prohibition cocktail bar. Rosewood London’s cartoon-decorated Scarfe’s bar continues to get rave reviews – the hotel has also introduced a regular Sunday Slow Food & Living Market, with over 40 artisanal stalls, in its courtyard. Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, managed on behalf of the Ferragamo family, is an introduction to Tuscany, and Rosewood Abu Dhabi introduces a Prince and Princess package, encouraging family travel. In New York, The Carlyle has a Madeline in Manhattan offer, which includes a Madeline book and doll and Madeline cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery: adults may also be drawn by Woody Allen’s ongoing Monday night performances with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band at Café Carlyle (ask the hotel’s Ernesto Floro for more highlights). Rosewood Mayakoba’s Epicurean Encounters includes meals in the organic vegetable garden

• 2015 is, by the way, the year of Mexico-UK celebration, and among the offerings from Tequila Espíritu de México (TEM) are tequila-themed tours, including travelling between Guadalajara and Tequila on the José Cuervo Express • Also, look out for the new 93-room Hotel Solar de las Ánimas, which is traditional Mexican with modern necessities (GM is Cees Houweling, and go for the Royal Suite, for views, hand-crafted artisan furniture and 24/7 butlers).

• In Stockholm, Marjorie Sundström is raving about the newly-opened Grand Hôtel’s Nordic Spa & Fitness, which stresses wholesomeness/closeness to nature/ healthy & sustainable lifestyle. Also new this year is a redo of the lobby, its Carrera marblefloored lobby inspired by the hotel’s 1874 grand opening. The former eighth floor Burmanska Palace has been recreated as a 3,300 sq ft Princess Lilian Suite, with two bedrooms, sauna, screening room, dining and terrace • Barcelona’s lovely Hotel Palace was known as The Ritz until the turn of the century – those were the days when Salvador Dali lived inhouse, and once asked hotel staff to bring up a stuffed horse to his wife Gala, who apparently was depressed. Fast forward to today. This month the rooftop terrace of the Algerian-owned hotel, run by GM Joan Vallis, will see the unveiling of a new pool surrounded by a romantic garden.

• The Cadarso family’s Condes Hotels open the 84-room Monument Hotel Barcelona in February 2016 (it is a conversion of a 19th century palace Passeig de Gràcia by architect Oscar Tusquets). GM is Miriam Cortijo and food is overseen by Martin Berasategui of Lasarte, which has two Michelin stars • Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern’s newly-decorated 101 rooms honour such past guests as Neil Armstrong and Leo Tolstoy: the Hauser family has owned the hotel since 1861 and today 12% of guests are Chinese, staying 1.3 nights (Cartier is right in the hotel, and Bucherer and Gübelin are less than 100 yards away, and all open Sundays).

• Crime writing queen Agatha Christie was inspired by trips to what is now Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, Istanbul, to write ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. The hotel, which has themed room 411 in her honour, is celebrating the 125th anniversary of her birth with a Black Friday programme October 22-24, 2015 – participants will include her grandson, Matthew Prichard, and Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith.

• Singapore tycoon Kwek Leng Beng has for decades wanted his own top-star hotel, and the result is the unbranded 654r The South Beach Singapore, designed by Philippe Starck (he has put a forest of lights, namely 11,520 glass rods, in the ballroom): GM Jan Büttgen is here in Shanghai

• The South Beach is one of ten hotels on the Preferred stand, led here by Anthony Ross – Preferred currently has 24 members in Mainland China, including Swire Hotels’ iconic The Opposite House Beijing, and opening next month, The Temple House Chengdu (GM Mark Passmore). Only one media-person has so far had a tour and she says this will make must-visit waves among bragging-rights travellers. A restored traditional courtyard temple is paired with an adjacent glass ten-floor box (holding 100 bedrooms): most public areas are imaginatively semi-underground, some grass-roofed with gigantic art-feature skylights, and other notable features include a historic building spa (two private suites have invisible entrances) and the adjacent Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li luxury shopping plaza, where Apple, under retail director Angela Ahrends, opens one of its first-three new-look studios (the others will be in Hong Kong and London).

• Also Preferred, Montage have two fabulous California properties, Montage Laguna Beach, the ideal family resort 90 minutes’ drive south of Los Angeles and, in the city itself, Montage Beverly Hills (two minutes’ walk from Rodeo Drive). Both have dads-and-grads special packages in the next few months.